Brain Train: Studying for Success

By Richard Palmer | Go to book overview
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More than kisses, letters mingle souls; For thus friends absent speak.

John Donne

That quotation may seem a bit grand and expansive to head a chapter that will be chiefly concerned with the writing of business letters. But Donne's words do illuminate a quality that characterizes any letter-directness. Letters presuppose a kind of conversation with the reader, or set out an agenda to be discussed. They are usually addressed to just one person (or to a family or committee as a unit, which amounts to the same thing), and they are written and sent for a precise, 'one-off' reason even if they also form part of a long correspondence. It is therefore very important that the writer gets as many things 'right' as possible. My aim here is two-fold. The first is to offer a set of guidelines concerning the writing of any formal letter-a skill that a surprising number of otherwise able people are only moderate at. The second is to follow up the last chapter by considering the pros and cons of 'the covering letter' when submitting an application, including the question of whether it should be handwritten. However, the matter of format needs to be addressed before anything else.
The following three considerations apply to all letters:
If hand-written, the address should ideally be placed in the top right-hand corner. With headed paper as used by businesses and many private individuals, it is now accepted practice to centre the address at the top.
The date should be clearly stated, including the year.
Careful attention should be paid to spacing. Many letter writers seem terrified of space and cramp their design in an ugly and


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Brain Train: Studying for Success


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